Shadow selfie on bike
The CSA box

Carless in Los Angeles

CSA

About three weeks ago I sold my car.  So I am officially carless in LA.  This decision was made because my license is suspended until March 21, 2017.  I decided there was no sense in keeping the car around for a year and paying for insurance, etc. when I could sell it and save money on all those expenses.  Think of all the Uber rides and cool new bike toys I could buy with that money!  And I have.

I’ve been relying primarily on my bike to get around and it’s been both awesome and so incredibly hard at the same time.  Awesome because during rush hour riding my bike takes the same or less time to get from one place to another, it gives me freedom to go where I want when I want, it’s fun and I’m getting a great workout.  Hard because I went from being completely sedentary due to my broken wrist to riding my bike 100 miles a week very suddenly.  My dear, sweet, accommodating, surprisingly strong body does pretty much whatever I ask of it but it isn’t always a graceful process.  I was a delightful combination of exhausted, starving and sore every waking moment of every day for two or three weeks.  Fortunately, I have always been somewhat athletic so I knew that if I just hung in there and pushed through the suck it would get better.  I would be less exhausted, I would be less starving and I would be less sore.  Eventually.

Bike riding sunset

Most of my evening commute is during dusk so I get to see some really nice sunsets. And traffic lights.

Sure enough things slowly eased up and I found myself feeling more and more human at the end of each week.  At around the six week mark, which was last week, I turned a corner and actually felt perky and in good spirits on Friday after 120 miles of bike commuting.  It was such an incredible relief!  I met friends for dinner after work and spent the weekend doing other things besides sleeping and being sore.

Now that my body has accepted this new reality and seems to be ok with it, I have started to notice some other interesting challenges of not having a car in LA.  My brother is visiting from NY and my bike only seats one.  So moving around the city together has been interesting.  I’m pretty decent at navigating public transportation and there’s always Uber but it’s not the same.  I’m just so used to being able to chauffeur my family and friends around when they visit. In fact, I like doing this.  Part of the fun for me of having visitors is taking care of them.  I want to give my friends, family and loved ones a five star experience whenever I can and being carless was stirring up a lot of anxiety about not being able to do that.  The first couple of days I felt really self-conscious about it.  Mostly because I hadn’t had to do this before and I wasn’t always sure what the best way for us to get around was so deciding how we were going to get from one place to another efficiently felt awkward.  After the first couple days we seemed to get into a rhythm and it started to get easier.  I’m glad that my brother was my first Guinea pig because he lives in NY so it probably wasn’t a stretch for him.  For everyone else, get ready for an adventure!

Shadow selfie on bike

What you can’t see in this photo is how sweaty I am almost all of the time.

Another challenge of not having a car is getting to far away places at strange times.  I’m training to do the Alcatraz Crossing in San Francisco and that means getting my ass to the ocean at 6am during the week to train and then to work.  At 5am a car is way faster than the bike because there is zero traffic at that time.  However, it still presents logistical problems because then I need to get to work and then home and that means I’d really like to have my bike to avoid rush hour traffic but the bike doesn’t fit on the Uber and so on and so forth.  So I’m still doing these transportation algorithms in my head and it makes me tired.  Traffic sucks, parking sucks, the DMV sucks but the mental logistical gymnastics of living a very full life, because that’s how I roll, with no car in LA also sucks sometimes.  I just keep telling myself that my regular routine was challenging a few weeks ago and now I have it under control so this too will pass and become second nature.  I just need to find patience.  Sweet, sweet patience.  It is a virtue that often eludes me.

I have a theory that it takes a year to get fully comfortable with any major life change.  In a year you get to experience a little slice of most of the blips and bumps that are part of the routine course of life under your new circumstances. And after this year I think I will have figured most of this out.  But for now, it’s still an ongoing adventure which presents new and interesting challenges, obstacles and revelations each and every day.

Los Angeles at dusk

That isn’t the sun setting, that’s Dodger’s Stadium. I love riding at night, you can’t beat the views.

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